Place-Publique, a political party in France, just launched the campaign “Stop Shein”, targeting the fast fashion company for abusive labor practices and encouraging overconsumption. Its founders include European Parliamentarian Raphaël Glucksmann, who has previously targeted the companies forced labor practices in the past. The campaign has now amassed 37,000 signatures on a petition hosted on their site.
Shein has been facing increasing scrutiny from policymakers, and several other countries have their own groups targeting the company, such as “Shut Down Shein” in the US. Its explosive growth and business model of ultra-fast, ultra-cheap sales have made the Chinese based company a symbol of fashion's detrimental environmental and social impact. Coupled with the growing tensions between Western countries and China, Shein has become an easy target of criticism.
This is not the first French led program targeted the fast fashion brand. In April, another petition to ban Shein trademarks over concerns surrounded them stealing designs achieved over 200,000 signatures.
The "Stop Shein" campaign is targeting a separate problem from the April campaign. This petition raised concerns about labor abuses in Shein's supply chain, including allegations of Uighur forced labor, as well as the significant environmental impact caused by the mass production of new clothes, primarily made from plastic materials.
On the Place-Publique website, Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire explains “SHEIN offers up to 8000 new references per day and pushes for a constant renewal of our wardrobe. The overconsumption exalted by SHEIN is a weapon of mass destruction of the climate: while the carbon footprint of the fashion sector currently represents 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, it could reach 26% in 2050 if we allow this model to flourish.”
Source: NGO Public Eye
Le Maire explains in detail a production system used by Shein that has been hidden from the public eye. He alleges that this system fails to respect social rights, provides unsafe working conditions, and uses cotton picked by Uyghur slaves. These allegations stem from private investigations done by NGO Public Eye, Bloomberg, Reuters, and Channel 4 in which they each separately discovered unjust work conditions at Shein.
Informed by the same Bloomberg Report, US lawmakers raised similar concerns about forced labor at Shein last month. As a result, they have taken their own action, calling upon the Security and Exchanges Commission to verify these claims before the company could become a US IPO. The Bloomberg Report is not enough for these lawmakers, as they hope the SEC could certify via “independent verification” that the company does not use Uyghur forced labor. There is no information back from the SEC at this point.
In the past Shein addressed these concerns by saying it has zero tolerance for forced labor. It also sought to address the criticism levelled against it more broadly, hiring lobbyists and promoting efforts to improve its environmental footprint and support better labor conditions within its supply chain.
They also responded directly to the US lawmakers, with Shein Spokesperson Peter Pernot-Day saying, "We are committed to respecting human rights and adhering to local laws and regulations in each market we operate in,” he continued to explain “Our suppliers must adhere to a strict code of conduct that is aligned to the International Labour Organization’s core conventions. We have zero tolerance for forced labor.”
The “Stop Shein” campaign is aiming for 100,000 backers to ensure it has maximum reach. Place-Publique believes has made it their responsibility to abolish the unjust business model. With the help of the people, they hope to bring widespread attention to this issue, and in turn force legislators and executives to get involved. The fight against Shein spans beyond one purpose, it is a fight for human rights and the climate.